I am sports fan.

I enjoyed participating in sports for many years, and now that my time to play is short (not to mention my skills have faded), I relish in marveling at the athletic abilities of others.

American football or the NFL is my favorite sport.

Now that the season is over, the speculation for fans begins about next year.

What player will my favorite team try to sign? Who will they select in the upcoming collegiate draft in April?

To help the franchises decide which players to draft, the National Football League holds an annual skills combine this week in Indianapolis.

During the scouting combine, future NFL players will lift weights, run, throw, interview, be quizzed, and be poked and prodded in an effort to determine the best athletes.

Guys who underperform are labeled as “having baggage” and will likely see their draft expectations fall or perhaps realize that they will not be drafted at all.

What qualifies as “baggage?”

Some of the players will have some sort of hidden injury that negatively affects their ability to run or excel. Others will fail drug screenings. A few players will score poorly the Wonderlic Test, and be thought of as unintelligent.

Surprisingly, three or four competitors will exhibit a poor attitude, and be labeled as a potential behavioral problems for a team.

Despite all of the expert opinions at the combine, the performances and assigned baggage result in a guessing game as to the players potential.

One excellent collegiate player who’ll participate in the combine, Myron Rolle from Florida State University, has evidently already been assigned “baggage.”

With Rolle, he does not have an arrest history or pattern of delinquency. He did not fail any drug tests. He has not been an attitude problem anywhere he has been. In contrast, Rolle is described as an excellent team player.

So why would an organization hesitate to select Rolle with one of their precious draft picks?

Well, Myron Rolle is considered too smart.

You see, Rolle is a Rhodes Scholar. He has aspirations to be a doctor after his playing days are complete, and has spent the last academic year studying at Oxford.

While in an undergraduate, an assistant coach told the scholar-athlete that he studied school work too much and should be spending more time on football. The criticism did not impact Rolle, as he graduated from college in 2.5 years while being a star on the team.

Team executives may be concerned that Myron could become frustrated with lack of playing time in the NFL, and choose to pursue his other career aspiration.

Being a football fan, I like sports, but I also understand there place in the grand scheme of things.

In the end, athletics at any level are only games.

There are many greater achievements in life than scoring touchdowns.

Rolle has unlimited potential to succeed as a physician or whatever career he chooses and his choices should be celebrated.

His current plan is to work with his family and eventually open a health clinic that serves the underprivileged in the Bahamas. They have already started their own foundation.

If Rolle excels at the combine, and he is predicted to be a high draft pick, there is no way I would not select the young man just for being too smart--afraid that he will leave the team prematurely.

I would want players on my team that are intelligent; who know how to simultaneously excel on the field, academically, and in their community. These are the performers with heart.

Players like Myron Rolle will give 100% of themselves on the field of play knowing that it is for a just short time, and that there are greater aspirations in life than entertaining me and millions of others on Sunday afternoons.

I'll enjoy watching Rolle shine on the football field and beyond.


Note: The photo was used from here and I got the idea for this post from the bloggers at Pro Football Talk.


slowvelder said...

My word! I can't believe that you can ever be too intelligent - he should be seen as an asset for the team. Surely you need some savvy to strategise when playing sport?

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Baggage because you're too smart-wow! And he's cute too!

J. J. in Phila said...

It is unfortunate, but it does happen.

the line is, "Oh, he'll be bored here," or "Oh, he'll go into something else after a few years," or "Oh, he won't fit in with the jocks, and there will be friction."

All of those things are of course stereotyping. Much like me thinking, "Oh, I won't be interested in this post, because it's about sports."

I am noted for not being a sports fan.

Stephanie Faris said...

I know nothing about sports. But I guess they all have baggage...if they don't have it when they start, they develop it eventually... said...

Beautiful article on Rolle here:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This attitude floors me. I'd rather have the intelligent players on the team. They're the leaders. And they're the ones with the bright future after their sport careers comes to an end. These individuals should be our kids role models, not the ones who cheat, gamble, use drugs, etc.

Thanks for the great post!

Nathalie said...

Watching sports really can be so interesting, if you see of what the human body is capable. I think the expression "having baggage" sound so devaluating

Iva said...

athletes are truly amazing, exception beings.

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, it's sad when someone is bypassed (or has the potential to be) because they're "too smart."

 ALH said...

Even if they are worried he'll move onto something else after a few years, he's still obviously a "star" and would benefit the team while he's there right?

And, he obviously knows how to manage his time and his intelligence has not hindered his ability to mesh with the rest of the team, yet, if he's described as a "team player."

This post really amused me. I had no idea that IQ had any bearing on whether or not a person would be a good addition to a sports team.

Ann T. said...

Dear Slamdunk,
These people are nuts. All the time, they suffer from the "it's only a game" dismissal. They have to spin bad press from over-arrogant or over-'roided or substance abusing players.

Now they have a guy that proves pro sports can interest the intellectual, that anybody can love them, and,

that their football megabucks will end up being used in a worthy cause-- a means to a better world.

Snatch him up, pay him well, and give him responsibilities. Whoa, I would be glad to be on staff--just to keep it interesting for him. in a mental sense.

Even if this is a tactic to lower his salary demands--
The idiots are in the office, not on the field!

Thanks for this,
Ann T.

Amber Paterson Photography said...

I wish I was too smart to make millions of dollars on the field. :o)

So, did you mention your favorite team, or is it a secret?

Linz said...

their attitude is much like employers who don't want to hire people who are overqualified. they don't want those that are "too intelligent" to leave their team eventually, it seems. :(

Holly said...

Sadly, I am not that surprised. My brother played ice hockey and has a few friends in the NHL. We also know a very famous baseball player and the emphasis that is put on the sport rather than any intellect is amazing. It is the kind of house I grew up on (no disrespect meant to mom and dad0, but brother was the star athlete and we spent tons of cash flying all over for his hockey and such...and many times I was forced to do my homework at am ice rink or in the car on the way to a game...they just didn't get that the brain can actually get you far.

terri said...

He sounds like a rare gem. If he gets passed over because he's "too smart" it is the NFL's loss.

Conquer The Monkey said...

my hubby loves college football, I get the updates on the who what where stuff...that is interesting re: the player's "baggage" I hadn't heard about that!!!

Amanda West said...

That sucks. What'da they say?

"Uh sorry, Dude, you're just too smart for football." ??

I guess that leaves us bound in a world full of dumb jocks.

What else is new?

Herding Cats said...

I can't believe this is seen as a negative quality. WTF? The world is a backwards place!

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the feedback and kind words.

Professional sports is a business and I understand that the managers want to select the best player who is most likely to be with them for several years. In my opinion, it is a shame that this young man will be lumped into a category with someone who has caused problems and is deemed a risk.

@ Nathalie: Good point--baggage has a negative connotation that is difficult to get past.

@ Amber: I have liked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since they went 0-14 in 1976--it was a pity attachment then and they have lost plenty since those days.

@ Holly: Thanks for the personal story.

@ AsseenonFl...: I appreciate the link-it was informative.

Dan said...

Baggage because you aren't stuck playing football. That leads to the fear you might not be motivated enough. Too wealthy before the NFL can also be baggage.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

That is SO bizarre! Michael Vick HUNG dogs (I really hate him) and he's in the NFL but a true scholar isn't? What a pity... that organization is whacked.

gladwellmusau said...

That's hear that someone is disqualified or not targeted because of their smartness is indeed quite rare. I do agree with you...its better to have someone who is wholehearted for a short time rather than a half-hearted one for a lifetime!!!



angelcel said...

Too smart to toss a ball around? Well *that's* a new slant on things?!

Elena said...

Having brains is a detriment? Heck, I wouldn't call that baggage, I'd call that designer luggage.

Bethany Wiggins said...

Love your blog!

Kristin said...

What an inspirational story! It's like when they tell someone they're overqualified for a job, they're afraid they'll leave. Labeling someone before they even give them a shot. Sad.

My Husband's Watching TV... said...

Thanks for your feedback on ONJ's bf! Let me know if you find anything out.

Lipstick said...

This is so odd.....
Seeing players like Adam "Pacman" Jones-now that's baggage.

Seems like the media would love this Rolle, so would fans. If he really was a great player, I think he could make lots of money for himself and the NFL. Everyone is happy then. Just my super-humble opinion.

tam pham said...

What an amazing role model that Rolle is for young kids out there who are trying to acheive their academic and athletic goals.

Thank you for visiting my blog :-).

suzanneme said...

I love watching NFL, and I agree with slowvelder that he should be seen as an asset. It is great to see someone who is intelligent and a role model in a position to influence others.